This easy orange marmalade recipe is made without pectin or refined sugar! It’s made with just 3 ingredients, thickened with chia seeds, sweetened with just a touch of maple syrup, comes together quickly and is my favorite homemade marmalade!
This post has been updated from the original posted March 12, 2019.
Simple orange chia marmalade is a low sugar alternative to traditional marmalade recipes. There are different ways to make homemade orange marmalade and this is more of an orange jam recipe made with chia seeds rather than pectin! Chia seeds are a great way to thicken jam recipes because they’re packed with protein, fiber, antioxidants and healthy fats.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- No pectin: Chia seeds help to thicken the orange jam.
- Refined sugar-free: Naturally sweetened with maple syrup.
- Only 3 (wholesome) ingredients.
- Freezes beautifully.
What type of oranges are best for marmalade?
Fresh oranges are in season from September-July, basically all year. The sweetest oranges are at their peak from November through February. I like to make a few batches during citrus season, when the oranges are cheaper and sweeter, and freeze for year round marmalade bliss.
Traditional orange marmalade is made with bitter seville oranges. Sour oranges have more natural pectin than sweet ones, so if you’re making a pectin free orange marmalade recipe, it gives you a head start! If you don’t like bitter marmalade, and you use all seville oranges, you may have to use a lot of sweetener. Or, you can combat the bitter taste with a combination of different types of oranges.
Sweet orange marmalade is made with sweet oranges, so you can use less sugar. Here are my top picks:
- Navel oranges: characterized by thick skins that are easy to peel, less juice, and no seeds
- Cara Cara: they’re sweet with orange peels that are bright and flesh that’s pinkish…and they make a delicious orange jam.
- Blood oranges: these have a bolder color that’s juicy and tart, with just a hint of bitterness.
- Maple syrup
- Chia seeds: A healthy way to thicken orange jam. Chia seeds contain protein, calcium, fiber, antioxidants and Omega 3 fatty acids.
How to make orange marmalade
First wash your oranges well. If you have a kitchen loofah, use it! If you didn’t buy organic oranges this is especially true since they are a heavily sprayed fruit.
Then, use a microplane grater and zest one of the oranges down to the white pith.
Now, cut the peel off all the oranges, including the one that was zested. The white pith is bitter, so peeling that part off will help to make a sweeter marmalade with less added sweetener.
Use a sharp knife for the best results. Start by cutting off the base so your orange will sit flat on the cutting board. Then, make a slice from the top rounded towards the bottom. Turn the orange and continue slice by slice until the whole orange is left without peel or white part. Proceed until you’ve finished all the oranges. A vegetable peeler will work in a pinch.
Next, place the whole oranges, orange zest and maple syrup into a blender or food processor and blend until uniform in consistency. It’s ok if it gets a bit foamy.
Transfer orange mixture to a small saucepan. Start with medium heat until it comes to a boil. Then, turn down to keep a simmer and cook over low heat for about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally as it thickens.
Turn heat off, stir in chia seeds and let sit for about 10 minutes. Stir again and let the hot marmalade sit for another 5 minutes. Marmalade will continue to thicken as it cools.
Debra’s Pro Tips
- Throw a cinnamon stick into the orange mixture while boiling for a bit of extra pizzaz. Be sure to remove before you stir in the chia seeds.
- Use an immersion blender after the orange marmalade has cooled for a smoother texture.
How to store marmalade
- Bring marmalade to room temperature before transferring to containers.
- Orange marmalade will stay good in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 weeks. Small 4-oz mason jars are a great size.
- Store in the freezer for 3 months.
- I like to use ½ cup silicone molds and then pop them into a freezer safe zip top bag.
- If you freeze in glass jars, make sure to leave enough room for the marmalade to expand.
What to serve with orange marmalade
Use it to slather onto your Whole grain Irish Soda Bread, or fill your healthy hamentashen. Orange marmalade with no pectin tastes great inside almond thumbprint cookies, jam filled muffins or crumble bars and I wouldn’t say no to a PBJ that used some of this delicious orange jam!
Orange Marmalade FAQs
Marmalade is made with citrus fruit and jam can be made with citrus or another type of fruit or vegetable.
Generally, marmalade uses the rind, which is bitter. It also depends on what type of oranges you use. Seville oranges are bitter and therefore produce a more bitter marmalade. If you prefer a sweet marmalade, use less of the rind and a sweeter orange like cara cara.
You can use chia seeds instead of pectin to help thicken your marmalade. You can cook your fruit over low heat until it reduces to thicken it up as well. Also, if you use sour oranges or lemons, they have more natural pectic than sweet citrus which will help the marmalade set.
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Easy Orange Marmalade Recipe
- 5 oranges medium sized
- 3 tablespoon maple syrup
- 3 tablespoon chia seeds preferably white
- Wash oranges well. If you don't buy organic oranges, this is especially important as oranges are heavily sprayed with pesticides.
- Zest one orange into the bowl of a blender or food processor. Stop when you reach the white pith.
- Use a knife to peel all oranges (including the zested one).
- Blend orange zest, whole oranges and maple syrup.
- Transfer to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and then turn down to keep a low simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15-minutes, until beginning to thicken.
- Stir in chia seeds and let sit for 10-15 minutes, until it has a jelly like, thick consistency. Stir well, breaking up any clumps.
- Orange marmalade will continue to thicken as it cools. When completely cool, transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, or the freezer for 3 months.